Saturday, August 22, 2009

Freaking Out...

...does not even begin to describe it. My life for the next year has, as best as possible, been packed into these three bags:

(and no, the spinning wheel is not coming with me to Korea)

Earlier this week we went over to L. L. Bean in Columbia and I purchased two of their extra large adventure duffels with wheels, and one medium tote to use as a carry-on. I had already packed two rolling duffels, but upon inspection it was clear that there was absolutely no way that I could cram everything I needed into those bags. The bigger of the two previous bags was about 3-4 inches shorter than these bags. The bag on the right weighs in at a reasonable 49.54 lbs. The max weight without surcharges is 50 lbs. Nothing like cutting it close...

The bag on the left contains EVERYTHING ELSE, and weighs a whopping 76 lbs. For the privilege of having everything I need, I will pay United Airlines a $200 fee. Lovely. Then, of course, I have my carry-on chock full of goodies, and my purse packed to the gills. When I left on Semester at Sea, I struggled to figure out how you packed 100 days, and all climates, into two 70 lb bags. I was right on the cusp of having too much in my bags on that trip. You should all be impressed that even though it took me 140 lbs to pack for 100 days in 2005, it only took me 126 lbs (give or take a few) to pack for an ENTIRE YEAR this time.

There are lots of things you have to pack that you never really think about when moving in the states. For instance, my parents insisted that I bring a smoke/fire detector for my apartment, since it might not have one. I had to bring half a year's supply of my favorite deodorant, because the brands and availability are limited (and I couldn't afford more right now, hahaha! that stuff is expensive!). I had to pack gifts for my school principal, and umbrellas and flashlights. I packed a pillow and slippers to wear in my house because it is custom to remove your shoes. There is just a bunch of stuff that you have to think of, and find room for, in addition to clothes for a year. Since (from what I have heard) most Korean women are a size 2 and wear size 7 or smaller shoes, I really needed to come prepared. We all know that I am no size 2. I had to pack clothes for heat and humidity when I get there (and next summer), and bitterly cold winters. Oh, and all that good stuff in between. STRESSFUL!

This morning, in honor of my leaving, my mom treated me to a facial and pedicure at Glow in Annapolis. The pedicure was great and the facial was amazing. It was definitely a needed hour to relax. She had given me the choice of a facial or massage, and I am glad that I chose facial as my muscles would have been all knotted back up from stress by now anyway. I haven't felt much like eating the past few days- I pretty much constantly feel nauseated by all the butterflies in my stomach. I am hideously nervous.

Yesterday I got on the message board for the SMOE Fall 2009 teachers and I was shocked to see that a bunch of teachers received phone calls yesterday telling them that the SMOE had accidentally given out too many positions and they didn't actually have a job. As much as I am freaking out now, I cannot even imagine what those people are going through. It appears that these were mostly people who applied only recently, or weren't going to have their visa in time, or needed to come to orientation late, or who had the lowest level of qualifications (Level H). Since I applied back in April, have had my visa for over a month, will be at orientation on time, and have a higher level of qualification (Level E), I think I am fine. I toyed with the idea of calling Dave (my recruiter) yesterday to ask if I still had a job, and then I realized that if the answer was no, I didn't want to know! I have talked to a couple other Footprints people that I had been in contact with and they seem to be safe as well. I just hope the people who got cut had some back-up plan. I don't know what I would do! People have quit their jobs, invested tons of time and money, made plane reservations, etc. People are hundreds of dollars in the hole. I would be livid.

You know how little kids are constantly full of "what if" questions? I am constantly full of "but how" questions.

But how am I going to get used to not talking to my mom as often?

But how am I going to have enough money to live comfortably until I get my first paycheck on September 24?

But how am I going to be in contact with people before I get my Korean cell phone and my internet service hooked up?

But how am I going to do the things that come so naturally here: food shopping, getting from point A to point B on my own, paying bills?

But how am I going to survive a year? What was I thinking?!

I know that the answers to these things (and more) will reveal themselves after I arrive, but that doesn't really help me now. I am definitely struggling with the idea of not being able to be in close contact with people, especially my mom. My mom is absolutely one of my best friends. She is the first person I call when I am excited, or upset, or confused. She is the one I tell all my stories to, the one I am going to want to share this experience with real time. (Pause for bawling and a heart-to-heart with my mom.) Aggh, okay. No more. Only positive thoughts now.

Here is your positive closing thought for the evening. I am about to go pop some NyQuil gel-caps and fall into a (hopefully) dreamless sleep. Tomorrow morning the adventure begins.

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